Told in flashback, the film relates Francis of Assisiâs evolution from rich manâs son to religious humanitarian and eventually to full-fledged saint.
Francesco was based on Hermann Hesseâs Francis of Assisi, which director Liliana Cavani had previously filmed in 1966.
The Saint and founder of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor is played by Mickey Rourke, and his inspiration, the woman who later became Saint Clare, is played by Helena Bonham Carter.
Raised as the pampered son of a merchant, Francis goes off to war only to return with a profound horror for the society which generated such suffering.
In one scene, as an act of renunciation, he strips himself of his fine clothing in front of his father and leaves the house naked and barefoot, joining the lepers and beggars in the poor section of town.
The film follows with a series of episodes from the saintâs life rather than a coherent narrative, following up until his final days when he receives the stigmata, or wounds similar to those on the body of Jesus at the crucifixion. -- allmovieguide
The film won three awards and was nominated for a fourth. Danilo Donati won the 1989 David di Donatello Award for Best Production Design, and the 1989 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Silver Ribbon also for Best Production Design.
Fabio Bussotti won the Syndicate's Best Supporting Actor Award. Director Liliana Cavani was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival